Valpo History Professor Named President of American Society of Church History

rot2The American Society of Church History has elected Ronald K. Rittgers, Ph.D., Erich Markel Chair in German Reformation Studies and professor of history and theology, as its next president. Rittgers will serve a three-year term as president.

Rittgers joined Valparaiso University’s faculty in fall 2006 after he taught for seven years at Yale University. He is particularly interested in the religious, intellectual and social history of medieval and early modern Europe, and he is considered an expert in Reformation studies.

“Those of us at Valpo are very pleased with Professor Rittgers’ election to be the president of the American Society of Church History,” said Mark Biermann, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “This election is a clear endorsement of the high quality of his scholarship and of his outstanding contributions to his professional community.”

The American Society of Church History is the premier society for historians of Christianity in North America. Its origins date back to 1888 and its presidents have included many of the leading church historians of the last century and a half.

“I am greatly honored and humbled to have been elected president of the American Society of Church History,” Rittgers said. “I have been a member of the society for some 15 years and greatly value the vital role it plays in promoting the study of the history of Christianity in North America.”

As Valpo looks to 2017 when the University, along with other Lutheran organizations and universities around the world, will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Rittgers’ position as president will be especially significant given this important time in the church’s history.

“As a Reformation scholar, it will be a special honor for me to give the ASCH annual presidential address in 2017, the year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation,” Rittgers said.

Rittgers holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, a master of theological studies from Regent College of Vancouver, British Columbia, and a bachelor of arts from Wheaton College. He is widely published, including two books, “The Reformation of the Keys: Confession, Conscience, and Authority in Sixteenth-Century Germany” and “The Reformation and Suffering: Pastoral Theology and Lay Piety in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany.” Rittgers has received a number of research grants from notable organizations such as the Lilly Endowment and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Contact Nicole Niemi at or 219.464.6010 for more information about Valparaiso University.